Archive for November, 2010

Leslie Neilsen

November 30, 2010

Monday November 29th, 2010 – Somewhere At Sea

I read today that Leslie Neilsen died at age 84. I was a big fan of his both onscreen and off, and I regret I never got a chance to meet him. All the articles I read about him said he was extremely friendly and approachable, and he even had a connection to Milwaukee.

I loved his work in “Airplane!”, and I remember seeing it when I was in high school. It was one of the rare times I was together with my family and I don’t recall any fighting or harsh words. As I remember, my siblings, cousins and aunt and uncle went to see it at the theatre on some holiday weekend. We all loved it, except my kook bag Aunt Charlene.

She thought it was a serious movie, and kept trying to figure out the plot. Really. I kind of felt sorry for my uncle to have to be married to her wackiness, but he could have gotten out of it. He just chose not to, and she was a sore spot for us all. Thankfully, she’s dead.

That movie sure had a big impact at the time though. It hit us at exactly the right time to crack us all up, and it totally did. It was fresh and different, and we all saw Leslie Nielsen in a whole new light. He found his stride in comedy and went on to a Hall of Fame career.

What really impressed me was an article I read about him and his father, who worked as a Canadian Mountie. Apparently, his father was a raging alcoholic and beat Leslie and his brothers and mother often. Leslie had a one on one meeting with him and never got any of the apology he wanted, so he got up and left. For that reason alone, I wanted to meet him.

People with a father tweak bond very quickly. I’ve had many near strangers come up to me and tell me their in depth stories of meetings they had with their fathers, and came out with results far less than they’d hoped for. That’s not a happy ending, but in a strange way there’s something comforting about being able to tell it to someone who truly grasps it.

Unfortunately, I wish I didn’t. I wish Leslie Neilsen didn’t. I wish nobody did. A father is supposed to be a family leader and nurture and encourage everyone to have a better life. Too many never come close to that, and their trail of damage is left behind like a tornado.

Leslie Neilsen was the ultimate example of a dented can who made good. I wonder if he was able to forgive his father, or just buried that part of his life away and went on to give the gift of laughter to so many millions who ended up loving his work. I sure hope he was at peace with the world, but by all accounts of everything I read, he died the perfect way.

Supposedly, he just went to sleep and passed away. Good for him. Not a slow or painful process, just lie down and drift away. Steve Allen apparently died exactly the same way. I think that’s a sign of a peaceful soul, and I’d love to follow suit. But I know my history.

I’ll probably get some unpronounceable tropical butt fungus from a toilet seat and have to spend years in a plastic bubble getting castor oil enemas six times a day from a 300 lb. Samoan nurse with the hots for me. Even if I do, I’ll still be a big fan of Leslie Nielsen.

Cruise Ship Kudos

November 29, 2010

Sunday November 28th, 2010 – Miami, FL

The efficiency of how everything on a cruise ship operates is absolutely incredible. I’ve been witness to it first hand on multiple ships now and I continue to be amazed each time I see it. These people know what they’re doing, and they get it done week after week with precise accuracy. If I had to run an operation like that, I’d have NO idea where to begin.

The amount of food alone is staggering. Every breakfast has fresh fruit, and I wouldn’t be able to even make an educated guess as to how many cantaloupes for example to have on board at any given time. And how would they know when to buy them so as they’d be fresh and usable the entire cruise? That alone would wipe me out, but there’s a lot more.

What about fuel? Where does the company buy it, store it, and have enough on hand for the 23 ships they have in their fleet? They’re in numerous ports, so that’s got to be part of the deal. What about crew members? Keeping track of everyone has to be a major source of aggravation, if only that there are so many people speaking many different languages.

Couple all that with the fact that every week they have to deal with immigration laws of numerous countries, customs, and passports for passengers and work visas for workers. If I had to deal with half of that on one ship, I’d flip out in about two hours. These guys can make it happen week in and week out, and for that I give them their props. They earned it.

Probably the most impressive process of all is how they switch passengers at the end of each week. It’s like a giant NASCAR pit stop. Passengers get off the ship in an organized fashion, and the crew is lightning fast and focused at cleaning all the rooms and getting it spiffed up for a group of new passengers a few hours later. They do that week after week.

Thankfully, the fuss has died down about the ship that was dead in the water a couple of weeks ago, but even that is a very rare occurrence. Every ship I’ve ever been on is always running some kind of safety drill or making announcements as to how to avoid accidents.

For whatever things I don’t like about life aboard ship, fear for my personal safety isn’t one of them. I feel as safe on a cruise ship as I do in any hotel in America. They stress the importance of cleanliness too, and are always telling everyone to wash their hands often.

Whatever happens with my own future in the cruise ship genre, I’ve learned a lot in the few months I’ve been exposed to this world. It’s been going on fine for years without me and I know it will survive after I’m gone, whenever that will be. For now, I’m learning all I can about everything I can and the more I learn the more I’m blown away by each facet.

Tonight started the process all over again. There’s a whole new load of passengers on a gorgeous ship that’s going to the exact same places it did last week. There was a different pair of comedians on board, and they had to do the ‘Welcome Aboard’ teaser show in the exact same way we did tonight. Next week there will be two new comedians entertaining an entire ship full of new people still. The process never ends, and I‘m in major awe of it.

Dream Weaving

November 28, 2010

Saturday November 27th, 2010 – Somewhere At Sea

I had a very bizarre dream last night that I can’t stop thinking about. It was one of those extra vivid ones with razor sharp detail that seem like they’re really happening. This isn’t the first time I’ve had a dream like that, and when they happen they linger in my mind for years after. I can even remember a few I had as a kid with amazing detail and full clarity.

I’ve started to pay way more attention to things like this ever since I started hosting the Mothership Connection paranormal radio show on WLIP, and my mind is open to a lot of new possibilities I never thought of before. I don’t want to fly out past Neptune and Pluto without first considering a logical or sensible answer, but I admit I don’t know the truth.

In this latest dream, I’m relaxing after a show and hanging out with friends. There are a lot of my favorite people there, and I can feel myself really enjoying their company. Some new guy comes back stage and starts hanging out with us, but nobody knows who he is or how he got there. He starts to join the conversation, and it feels like we‘re hitting it off.

The other people are all eventually gone for whatever reason, and I quickly glance down at my watch and know I have a plane to catch. The other guy puts on his dark glasses and leather biker jacket and I immediately realize it’s my father. He’s not at all the nasty mean spirited caustic bastard I remember so vividly. This was a completely different life form.

I don’t know why I remember this particular dream so vividly, but I totally do. I’ve had others that I tried to write down as soon as I woke up, and could only piece together a few sketchy details that made absolutely no sense. I’d look at my notes to see “Sliding down a giant spoon, waiting for Fred Flintstone to give me a haircut.” Hmmm, not a life changer.

This one really touched something inside. I had NO idea who this guy was, and I really did find myself liking him. Then when he put on the glasses and jacket and I realized who it was, it totally caught me off guard and I felt like I’d been had. He looked me in the eye as he was putting on his jacket, then he turned away as if he knew I’d want him to leave.

I woke up right after that and laid in my bunk for a while trying to figure it all out. First I had to figure out where I was. That’s always been a common theme ever since I’ve been on the road. Even if I’m home, wherever home might be at that time, it always takes me a few seconds to recall where I am and get my bearings straight. I figured out I was at sea.

Then the details of the dream played over and over in my head and I wondered if there’s any deeper meaning to it or if I need to stop eating close to bedtime. Actually, I’m getting a lot better at that and haven’t been eating much at all after about 7pm. That wasn’t it.

According to a lot of things I’ve read in the past year or so, there’s a belief that the dead can and do communicate with the living in exactly that manner – through dreams. I’m not saying I think that’s what it was, or if I believe it at all. I’m just saying that’s what people have written. Could it be a possibility? Of course it could, and I keep an open mind to it.

I’d really like to run this scenario past a dream interpretation expert and see what comes back. Why was this so vivid? Why did it happen now? I know I felt only recently that I’ve finally been able to forgive him, but that was weeks ago now. Shouldn’t it have happened then, or is my brain just late in sorting out details. Whatever the case, it got my attention.

Years ago, I had a similar dream with my grandfather. Actually, the only thing that was similar at all was the vividness of it. The outcome was completely different. Gramps and I were very close, and he died a painfully slow death from cancer in December of 1981, the year I graduated high school. His last few months up to hospice care were hard on us all.

When Gramps died, there was a huge hole in my life. I was 18, and if I ever needed him and his wisdom, that was it. He was the peacemaker, and all hell broke loose immediately after he passed. I desperately hoped for some kind of sign telling me he was looking down or up or over or whatever he had to do to maintain contact. Nothing. I only felt the void.

Several years later, I had a very vivid dream out of nowhere just like this one. In it I saw Gramps, but he was very far from me and very much in pain. He looked old and shriveled and almost embarrassed to see me. I tried running to him in the dream, but he blew me off and turned away. I felt a coldness from him I’d never felt before and I could see his pain.

That one took me by surprise, but I didn’t tell anyone about it because I didn’t have any idea who to tell. I figured it was just a bad dream and left it at that, but it was just so vivid and felt so real I couldn’t forget it and still can’t. I’ve seen Gramps a few more times in a dream situation like that, and he’s always looked horrible and it seems like he’s hurting.

The more I reach out to him, the more he seems ashamed and doesn’t want to talk to me at all. I’ve also had a few dreams where my grandmother shows up, but I don’t get a sense of pain with her. She just shows up to basically say hello, and goes back to her business. I don’t feel any particular warmth or coldness from her at all, and it hasn’t happened often.

This kind of stuff is just plain weird. I can’t explain it. Is it just a dream? Probably, but I have plenty of dreams and these are a whole lot different. They stand out because they are so realistic. I’ve had some other realistic ones about being on stage, but even those do not have the impact as the ones with the dead people coming back to me. Those are intense.

Wherever the old man is, I just hope he finds his own peace at this point. The damage is done as far as his parenting skills went, and all his kids have to deal with the cruel way he dealt with us all. Me wishing him to rot in hell won’t do anyone any good. I have no idea if there even is a heaven or hell or God or anything like that. I’ve got my own problems.

This whole thing does make me think though. I’ve heard some unflattering things about my grandfather, even though I thought he was a saint. In my eyes, my father was pure evil but maybe I only saw that side of him and there’s a lot more I’m missing. I don’t know, or know if I should even care at this point. He’s dead, and we never had a relationship or any reasonable facsimile. That’s why this dream stands out so much. Does it mean anything?

Music vs. Comedy

November 27, 2010

Friday November 26th, 2010 – Roatan, Honduras

I am completely in awe of musical talent, mainly because I have absolutely zero myself. I respect those who work hard at developing their gifts, and try to support whenever I can. Last night a gentleman named Marcus Anthony came to see my show, and he’s a headline singer in the main lounge. He was very complimentary, and invited me to see him tonight.

I always love watching talented entertainers work, and he didn’t disappoint. He not only has a spectacular voice, he’s a master showman as well. I don’t care what kind of music is involved, that’s a winning combination. Marcus does soul music, which I happen to really enjoy, and he knocked it out of the park. I saw his first show, and returned for the second.

Just like us, he does two completely different shows. That allows audiences to stay and see him twice, which gives Carnival a chance to sell more drinks. That’s how the game is played, and we all know that. Still, the guy is loaded with talent and was a joy to watch.

I don’t know if I’d want to be in the music business though. There are different ups and downs than comedy, but hauling equipment and dealing with bands doesn’t seem like any fun at all. The good thing about comedy is it’s easy to set up. A mike and lights, that’s it.

I don’t think the average audience appreciates the degree of difficulty there is in comedy though. Nobody heckles a singer. Their talent is apparent. The minute Marcus walked out on stage, he had the audience captivated with his powerful voice. Comedy isn’t that way.

Most comedians just talk, and the talent is a lot more subtle. It’s hidden in what they are saying, and if someone doesn’t listen, the illusion is broken and it becomes a war between performer and audience, or at least performer and heckler. Music is much more tangible.

I didn’t think about any of that during the show, I just sat back and enjoyed the evening. I probably enjoyed it more than the rest of the audience, because I know how much effort went into what he was doing. He probably took singing lessons for years, toured with lots of bands, fought his was through the insanity of show business, but nobody really cares.

They just want to hear some tunes and enjoy a show. The same is true with comedy. An average audience has no clue how difficult the business is, and doesn’t care where any of the material comes from. They want to be entertained, that’s it. The one advantage I have over a guy like Marcus is, I wrote most of my jokes. He sings songs others made famous.

When someone laughs at a joke I came up with or a personal story about my life, it’s an amazing feeling of satisfaction. Not so much when they don’t, but that’s the risk of being a comedian. I’m over thinking it at this point. Marcus was great, and I enjoyed the show.

We were off tonight, and will be back at it tomorrow. I already did my three show night, so tomorrow will be a walk in the park. I’ll go in and give it all I have, and then we’ll stay on board for the first part of next week and do it all again. It sure isn’t a glamorous life.

Bring On The Shrimp

November 26, 2010

Thursday November 25th, 2010 – Belize City, Belize

FINALLY…after several months of a grueling travel schedule, big time feelings of self doubt, constant questioning as to whether I made the right decision or not…today felt like I’m starting to reap some benefits of being out at sea for so long. I’m finally glad I came.

For one thing, the weather is now in my favor. When I started in the summer, it was hot everywhere. Today I watched the weather reports from the Denver television stations that are on our cable system and saw nothing but images of blizzard like snow conditions and overturned vehicles. Denver’s high temperature was going to be 10 degrees. Ours was 85.

Another thing was the food. We had a spectacular spread for Thanksgiving including all choices from traditional to just delicious. The turkey was outstanding, and the dark meat I love was in ample supply and extra juicy. They also had sirloin steaks, sushi and shrimp.

This was the first shrimp I’ve had since I’ve been on a ship. I love shrimp, and pictured a never ending supply as part of the deal in cruise ship life. I assumed they’d be available everywhere, the bigger the better. The smaller ones would be the size of yo-yos but on the holidays we’d get ones the size of a boxing glove. Wrong. Hadn’t seen a one until today.

I had a nice meal, but didn’t overdo it. Part of the reason was we had shows to do. This was my three show night, and I was surprised they’d make us work on the holiday. I don’t mind working anytime I get paid, but I assumed they’d give us tonight off. Wrong again.

The crew and staff here are extra nice. I’m working Carnival Valor and from the cruise director Goose down to John and Jimmy who run the comedy club, I felt relaxed and right at home from the first minute I met everyone. For some reason, I’m starting to feel at ease on ship after ship. When I first started, I don’t think I matched up well with those crowds.

Last week I worked Carnival Legend, and that was a good vibe also. The cruise director there is a charismatic Scottish guy named ‘Wee Jimmy’, and I think that guy has a chance to be a movie star if he wants. He’s a true personality, and it was a pleasure to meet him.

Those crowds and I seemed to mesh well, as did the ones tonight. The first show wasn’t full, but those who did show up were fantastic. Jerry Agar’s son Cooper is in high school and he has a girlfriend who’s on this cruise with her family. He told them to come see me and they did. In the past I wouldn’t have recommended that, but tonight I’m glad I did.

I also did three totally different shows, which impressed everyone. I wasn’t required to, but the challenge of doing it last week made me want to do it again. In a perfect world, it would be like that every week and it’s something to shoot for. Tonight, it all worked out.

This doesn’t mean I won’t have any more rough shows, or that cruise life will get easier anytime soon. This is hard work, and I earn every penny I make. BUT, it’s finally starting to get fun, and that’s the whole reason for living. I’m very grateful. Bring on the shrimp!

Time Bomb Wisdom

November 25, 2010

Wednesday November 24th, 2010 – Roatan, Honduras

Another day off, and with nothing to do and no place to be it’s way too easy to drift into no man’s land. These are the idle days that can lead to big trouble. I’m glad I don’t have a glaring vice, as today would have been the perfect day to lose myself in it. Instead, I chose to lose myself in dreams and preparation of projects I really want to go after hard in 2011.

It’s very difficult to have discipline on days like today. The other comedian Happy Cole is gone, so that takes away the main person to hang with. I don’t really know anyone else on the staff well enough to call and ask to hang out and the crew bar and mess area are all filled with people who don’t even speak English. It really can get lonely out here quickly.

Today’s port was Roatan, Honduras. I’ve flown out of here before and it’s not the best for walking around and exploring like I would in say Cozumel, Mexico. There are a few trinket shops to scour, but I’ve got all the trinkets, baubles and clutter I need in storage at home that I haven’t even sorted through. The thought of buying any more of that is crazy.

Maybe I should have gotten off the ship and walked around a little, but I didn’t. I did go to the observation deck on the ship but that got uncomfortable when too many passengers started to recognize me. I don’t mind if they come up after the show, but on my own time I just wanted to hang out and get some work done. I wasn’t rude, but I didn’t stay long.

I didn’t feel like doing much of anything at all, but I knew that wasn’t the right answer. Having absolutely nothing to do sounds great in theory, but it’s pure danger. I still recall telling my grandpa I had nothing to do one day when I was about 8 years old. He loaded me up with all kinds of unpleasant chores for the entire day, and I never did that again.

It wasn’t funny back then, but I laughed about it today. Gramps really had a wonderful way of imparting timed release doses of wisdom, and his time bombs have helped me get through some dark ugly days. They still do, and I need to write out in book form his many lessons that continue to keep me in line even today. Gramps was my greatest gift ever.

He had plenty of his own human faults, and I don’t think he was happy for the majority of his life – but he sure pulled out the stops when it came to me. He didn’t pull punches or sugarcoat anything, he told it like it was. He pushed me to be the best I could be, and had no sympathy for laziness or lack of effort. If it wasn’t for Gramps, I’d really be lost at sea.

That’s all I thought about today as I went over my pages of notes, ideas and projects I’m working on for 2011. It’s been a couple of weeks since I really delved into this stuff, but I made major progress last time and I was impressed with the amount of groundwork I laid.

I did several hours more today. I took each project I want to develop and listed all of the steps in the order I think I need to do them to make them grow. I worked on comedy notes and career ideas, and also a book of what I learned from Gramps. It should be very easy to put on paper – he wrote it very clearly on my heart and soul, all throughout my childhood.

Five Times In One Night

November 24, 2010

Tuesday November 23rd, 2010 – Grand Cayman Island

I scoured the deepest crevices of my memory all day, and I just can’t seem to remember in all my years even one other time when I’ve ever had to do five shows in one single day. I was able to pull it off, but it took every single year of experience I had to do it correctly.

I read where Vaudeville performers used to have schedules like that all the time. I don’t know how they survived that grind without going totally crazy. I had enough trouble with it for one night. By the fourth show, I was ready to go back to my room and lock the door.

This was a very tricky situation all the way around. First, this is Thanksgiving week and there are many more kids on board than usual. The first two shows are family friendly and rated PG. There were kids everywhere for both shows, and that makes everything harder.

Standup comedy as a rule just isn’t meant for kids. It’s difficult to get them to listen for any length of time, and their window of life experience is painfully small. I had no choice in the matter, so none of that was important. I had to do two half hour shows nevertheless.

They went very well, and I worked extra hard to make sure I gave my best. Quite a few parents came up to shake my hand after the show, and those who’d slap me on the arm or pat me on the back would be rather surprised to find out I was drenched with perspiration.

I never want to gross anyone out, but it’s WORK up there in the hot lights for that long. I move around way more than the average comedian anyway, and yes when I’m done I’m usually soaked to the skin. The illusion created is that comedy is done without any effort.

Many parents from the first two shows decided to come back and see my third show at 9:30. That’s a compliment to me and I appreciate it. The final three are billed as R-rated adult shows, but I really don’t work all that dirty ever. It’s just not my style. I try to keep it on the cleaner side, just because it’s easier to get higher paid bookings. Clean is green.

I’ve found that most audiences on the ships really like it on the filthy side for the adult shows. This is the only place I’ve ever gotten a complaint for not being dirty enough, and I’ve gotten that more than once so far. It goes against my comedic instincts, and what I’ve had to learn in clubs over the last twenty five years. I’m still learning the ropes out here.

Anyway, the third show went extremely well. I knocked it out of the park, and it was as solid a half hour set as I can imagine anyone doing. It was packed with laughs from top to bottom, but then the comedy club manager surprised me when he announced at the end of the show I’d be doing a completely different show for the 10:30. I hadn’t planned on that.

I don’t blame the club managers, they’re all new to comedy. Our guy this week is a very good guy and does a splendid job hosting the shows. I wasn’t angry, but it did surprise me a little when he said I’d be doing a whole new fresh thirty minutes. I took it as a challenge and went over in my head what bits I hadn’t done yet. I lined them up and went to work.

There’s something remarkable about the human spirit when it’s backed into a corner in a pinch that I’ve never seen fail. The mind comes out swinging and gets the job done in a way I’ll never understand. I knew I had to do thirty new minutes they hadn’t seen, and my subconscious mind came through with flying colors. I even had some material left over.

That’s three completely different thirty minute sets without repeating anything. That’s a tall order, I don’t care what anyone says. Most comedians never have to work that way, so this is a real workout. Personally, I like to have my whole repertoire in my head for every audience, and then I can pick and choose what I want to give them for any 45 minute set.

That gives me a lot of freedom to really mix it up, and the results are some very unique shows that are not only fun for audiences, but for me too. Doing the same old stuff every time loses it’s luster after a very short time, even though it’s good to have a polished set.

This was great practice tonight, and I actually wouldn’t mind doing it again if it should be needed. I’m glad I was able to help allow Happy Cole get home for Thanksgiving with his family. Everything else was secondary. Doing five shows wasn’t anything out of line.

That fifth show was extra tricky though, as I didn’t know who had seen me when or if at all. It was a port day too, which always makes it tougher because many of them have been cocktailing in the sun since early afternoon. Each of the five shows had added challenges.

I could have phoned it in, but I didn’t. If I’m going to be out here working, I want to get the most out of it from a comedy standpoint. I’m not above earning every penny they pay, and in fact I wouldn’t want it any other way. If someone comes out to see me perform, my goal is to always give them the absolute best I have. Phoning it in isn’t good for anyone.

As I get older, I realize that every time I step on a stage could very well be my last. Had my latest car wreck last week smeared me like a bug on a windshield, my very last shows would have been on the Destiny last week. I gave my all there and was happy with them.

It’s not pleasant when an audience doesn’t like me, but I can live with it if I know in my heart I’ve given my absolute best effort. I’m getting a lot better at that as I get older, and it feels great to turn a crowd around when at first they were stiff or indifferent. That effort is never wasted if in the end they come around and can be shaped into a productive entity.

I learned a lot from tonight’s marathon. The reason I went on about it in such detail was to help aspiring performers who may read this in the future. Whether I’m living or dead is of no consequence, the lesson is the same – give it all you’ve got in every performance, no exceptions. When there are kids, drunks, repeats, whatever. Give it all up every time up.

I’m still a student of the game, and I’m going through in my mind how I could have done even better shows. For example, it’s Thanksgiving week. Do I have any bits about it? NO. Does it come up every year? Yes. Would it behoove me to have at least a few jokes on the topic next year? Of course. Even after good shows, there’s still room for improvement.

A Night Off

November 23, 2010

Monday November 22nd, 2010 – Somewhere At Sea

An unexpected night off. The other comedian Happy Cole apparently had a glitch in his schedule, and has plans to be home for Thanksgiving with his family. Fine with me. I told both him and the cruise director I’m flexible and will do whatever it takes to work it out.

I never mind helping someone out, especially another comedian. I know how schedules can sometimes conflict and way too often there’s too big a deal made when someone tries to make a switch. I’ve been there more than my share of times myself, so this is a total no brainer. A guy needs to get home for the holidays. I get it. How can we make that work?

What will happen is, Happy will do all five shows tonight, and I’ll do all five tomorrow. I don’t think I’ve ever done five shows in a day before, but it won’t kill me. I’ll do what it takes to make it work, and Happy will fly out tomorrow and be home for Thanksgiving.

That left me a lot of time tonight to sit and think about my future in detail. What would make me happy, and what can I realistically do to achieve it? Those questions have had a variety of answers over time, but right now it’s money and freedom. That’s what I want.

The good thing is, my money needs aren’t extravagant. I just want enough to live a nice life. A decent place to live, a slightly better car than I’ve been used to (that’s not difficult) and clothes on my back should do it. After taxes, $35,000 a year would do me very well.

The key is, how can I get enough saved to pay me that much just for getting out of bed? I’ll have to hit on a few ideas to get the nest egg in place so I can live off the interest. I’ve got quite a few ideas, and if one should hit I will be well on my way. It’s not like I’m not trying, I just haven’t hit anything yet. When I do, I’ll be ready. I’ve waited for a lifetime.

The freedom I want is creative freedom. I want to do what I want to do, when and how I want to do it. I’ve had more than enough imbeciles piss in my creative tank over the years and I’ve had my fill. I look at all the radio morons I had to listen to, and it makes me puke to think I listened at all. Then, when their ideas didn’t work, I was the one fired. No more.

If I’m going to work for any clueless imbecile, that clueless imbecile will be ME. I want to build a business from nothing and see it succeed. I’ve always been fascinated with mail order and that’s why I like Uranus Factory Outlet so much. I want to sell funny things at a fair price, but create a brand along the way. Marketing and sales are skills I want to learn.

I also want to develop the territory I call ‘The squared circle of Uranus’ which includes  Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, WI and Rockford, IL. There are millions of people in that geographical square, and it has all kinds of scenarios for marketing from big city to rural.

I have solid contacts in all four places, and I can develop my ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show in Milwaukee while I keep marketing other things to the area. I really believe all the cash I need is located right there in that square. Now I have to prove myself right and go get it.

Life is so temporary anyway, why not do what we really enjoy? That’s why I’ve stayed with comedy this long. I love doing it, and it’s been fun for a quarter of a century. Now, it makes sense to look into some new avenues that turn a better buck so I can be smart for a change and be ready when those dreaded golden years come. They’ll be better with gold.

Very few of my comedian friends have any kind of retirement plan. We all thought our big break would eventually come and take care of all that in one fell swoop. Ha. Only the precious few ever get that break, and the rest of us are left wondering where our next gig is coming from. It’s getting ugly out there, and I sure don’t want that lost guy to be me.

I don’t trust anyone in the comedy business as far as I can throw them. Bookers couldn’t care less about us, even though we’re the ones that make their living. That whole debacle with the Funny Business Agency and Giggles in Brookfield, WI last year drove that point home. I’d worked for each of them for many years, and they blew me off in half a second.

There’s no respect there, and even though I was wronged, I’m the bad guy in their eyes. They don’t care, they’ve got a backlog of hack wannabes who’ll work for half the price or less than a seasoned professional will, I’m through letting idiots like that rule my career.

Plus, it’s a lot more fun to be in control and in the driver’s seat. There are no limits as to what I can do, all I need is a direction and a plan. Nobody is going to go after the territory I chose, because they don’t see it like I do. The only one I’m competing against is myself.

I’ve read some amazing success stories of my mail order heroes like E. Joseph Cossman and Melvin Powers who each had multiple million dollar ideas that paid them off without ever leaving their bases of operation. I want that to be me, and I think that would bring an entirely new energy to my life which would make everyone around me more positive too.

That’s what I’d much rather do than chase the Hollywood game. I’m not what they want anyway, and never was. I like being real, and hanging with others who are the same. I like the challenge of building something out of nothing, and all it would take would be a little spoon full of success to last me for the rest of my life, however long or short that may be.

This is the perfect time to get everything going. I’m between places to live and have no real plans for the immediate future other than finish up my contract on the ships. After the first week in January, I’ll have an open schedule and be able to start working on whatever I feel like. I’m going to use the rest of the time at sea to prepare myself for my new era.

I sure hope I can avoid some of the stupid mistakes I’ve made in the past. Some of those are still nibbling at my nuts years or even decades later. I’m trying to get better, and this is a good time to wipe the slate clean and start over again. I’ve got a chance at the big time.

One nice run in life would be fantastic. After so many near misses and disappointments, the taste of success would be super sweet. I can’t remember a time when the future looks as hopeful as it does now. I’m afraid to be optimistic, but I will anyway. This could be it!

Vanquishing The Viqueens

November 22, 2010

Sunday November 21st, 2010 – Tampa, FL

One pleasant surprise of the cruise life is that I’ve been able to watch way more Green Bay Packer games than I ever thought possible. I thought for sure I’d have to forego that, at least for this season, but I’ve managed to catch most of the games by luck of the draw.

The television system on the ships is kind of goofy, and the only American channels we get are out of Denver for some reason. I heard from people who’ve worked the ships for a while that it used to be New York channels and Miami before that. That I can understand, but Denver? It seems odd to see weather predictions for snowfall when in the Caribbean.

The good part is that the Broncos are an AFC team and for whatever reason Fox shows Packer games as part of the NFC package. I’m sure Coloradans don’t care either way, but I do. I was delighted to turn on Fox 31 this afternoon and catch the beloved Pack stomp a capital G in the poopshoots of those putrid purple Viqueens. What a delightful diversion.

It’s remarkable to see how Minnesota has imploded as a team. They had no fire in their bellies at all, and didn’t even put up a fight. They were picked to do well this year and the atmosphere in that locker room must be really unpleasant. Couldn’t happen to nicer folks.

Maybe Brett Favre will finally just go away now. It’s over. He can take his razor stubble and his pampered crybaby attitude and his Wrangler jeans and especially those pictures of his misshapen weenie we all had to look at and go back to Mississippi and mow his lawn.

He got his hundred million dollars, what more does he need or want? Most of the rest of us are struggling to pay bills every month, and he has to piss and moan that the Green Bay Packers wouldn’t play his little spoiled brat games. They called his bluff, good for them.

As far as I’m concerned, as a Packer fan he’s dead to me. I don’t even plan on watching when they retire his number, and they will. The Packers are a class organization and I can see them giving Favre the red carpet treatment, even though I think he’s a complete wank.

I guess this is why sports is so fun to watch. It’s a soap opera, and it always changes. I’ll admit, I’m hooked, and so are millions of others. It’s fun for me to watch workers here on the ship get worked up over soccer games I couldn‘t care less about. It’s intense. They all congregate by the TV and scream at it while the game is going on. Sports is an addiction.

There are millions of addicts all over the world, and I’m one of them. I love the Packers and can’t help it. Brett Favre doesn’t know who I am, and couldn’t care less. The Packers don’t know who I am either. I’m some random nut rambling on about something that has no bearing at all on life or death. It’s totally a luxury nobody needs, but I’m still hooked.

I have a plate piled high with my own problems, hopes and dreams. Have the Packers or anyone else helped me through any of it? No, not at all. Still, for one afternoon it was my distinct pleasure to watch my favorite team demolish their archrivals. Back to real life.

Finally Some Rest

November 22, 2010

Saturday November 20th, 2010 – Somewhere At Sea

Not much going on today, and I like it. After this last week I wouldn’t mind sitting on a beach for a month to let my nerves settle down a little. Very few people realize how much effort it takes to be a comedian on so many levels, not to mention the difficult tasks of life that show up whenever they feel like it. It can all be so overwhelming, and this week was.

On the positive side, my shows really rocked this week. It felt exactly like a regular club situation I’m used to, and they really responded well. I had people coming up afterward to tell me they thought I was the funniest comedian of the four they saw this week and that’s the first time that’s happened. I know I’ve not been at the top of my game out here so far.

The question is, what put it over the top? I’m not really doing anything all that different except trying to choose material these people will like. I guess each ship has it’s own kind of audience mix, and this happens to be one where I fit in well. My closing bit about how the world is getting stupider destroyed these crowds, whereas other ships wouldn’t buy it.

That really worried me when that happened because that bit rocks almost everywhere in a club or theater situation. It’s usually a guaranteed killer close, and it’s bailed me out of a lot of situations. When I felt it die the first few times on the ships, it took me by surprise.

It doesn’t mean I now think I’ve got it all figured out, and I don’t claim that in the least. I’ve got a long way to go to make any kind of impact out here, but I don’t think that’s the name of the game. In clubs, the assumption is we’re trying to get discovered and find our way into a sitcom or movie deal. Club comics are trying to be cutting edge and different.

I think that’s the assumption anyway. I don’t get that feeling with cruise ships at all. All the audiences want are to be entertained for a half an hour, and the majority of those who come to the shows aren’t regular comedy club customers and don’t really care a lick if an act is original or not. All they want to do is relax and have some laughs and drink or six.

This whole experience is going to make me grow, because I’m going to let it. I’ve never had to work at anything comedy related as hard as I’ve had to attack this, and I’ve already learned a ton onstage and off in the few short months I’ve been out here. More to come.

Still, this isn’t my dream gig and I can’t see myself out here very long. I hear stories of guys getting sucked into working for years, and I don’t want that to be me. I will save my money for as long as I can, and I’ve already used these gigs to stabilize myself financially.

Nobody thinks about any of this starting out in the business. We all think it’ll just work itself out and the gravy train will never end. It’s taken me twenty-five years to finally get at least half a clue, and it all boils down to a four word mission – work hard, save money.

I’ve been doing both, and I know I won’t get many more chances to build money for the future. I never acquired a taste for cat food, and I hope my retirement doesn’t include any.